Victorian Liberals keep their must-win seat in Melbourne’s northeast
Victorian Liberal MP Nicole Werner has emerged victorious in a crucial by-election in Melbourne’s northeast.
The Australian called the vote for the Victorian Liberal Party around 8pm after a closely watched vote.
According to the Age, the Victorian Liberal Party itself called the vote around the same time.
Ms. Werner experienced an early 74 percent rise in two-party preference votes, with 34 percent counted.
That early lead is welcome news to Liberal leaders eyeing the 4.2 percent margin in 2022.
The Age reported that party auditors had reported primary votes above 50 percent early in the tally.
The party was tipped to win the Outer Town seat comfortably, with Victorian Labor not fielding a candidate.
Ms Werner, a charity manager, vowed to restore the integrity of Victoria’s finances ahead of the vote.
“I have served our community my entire working life,” says Ms. Werner.
“If elected, I will fight for the issues that matter to you.”
The by-election took place in July when Liberal MP Ryan Smith stepped down to take up a corporate job.
Mr Smith has represented Warrandyte since 2006 but only resigned six months after the 2022 election.
Victorian opposition leader John Pesutto said on Saturday the party takes nothing “for granted”.
Outside Ringwood North Primary School, Mr Pesutto said: “Nicole has worked so hard.
‘She’s knocked on the door, tapped the phone, she’s taken up listening posts.
“She is connected to the community she grew up in.”
The Liberals will occupy the seat by a margin of 4.2 percent in 2022, with any dip expected to have repercussions on Pesutto.
Pesutto evicted MP Moira Deeming from the banquet hall after she attended an anti-transgender rally.
Ms. Werner, the daughter of Chinese-Malaysian migrants, attended a local language school in Doncaster East.
In November, she unsuccessfully campaigned for the Box Hill seat in that year’s Victoria state election.
Ms Werner lost the seat, a key target for the Liberals in their push for government, to Labour’s Paul Hamer.
In the absence of Labour, Ms Werner had to run against 11 minor party or independent candidates.
The Greens candidate Tomas Lightbody was tipped as Ms Werner’s closest competitor.
Speaking to SkyNews before the polls closed, he was optimistic that the Greens could take victory.
“It’s hard to predict what we’re going to achieve tonight, but what I can say is we’re done,” he said.
“We’ve talked to people, we’ve talked to people about climate change… it’s really on their minds.”
Mr Lightbody was assisted by Victorian Greens leader Samantha Ratnam at the East Doncaster stand.
“Elect another powerful progressive voice for climate action and housing affordability: vote Greens,” she said.
Ms Werner’s other competitors included the Sustainable Australia Party and the Freedom Party of Victoria.
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